Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A tower or other fortification on the approach to a castle or town, especially one at a gate or drawbridge.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A tower at the entrance to a castle or fortified town
  • n. A fortress at the end of a bridge.
  • n. An opening in the wall of a fortress through which the guns are levelled; a narrow loophole through which arrows and other missiles may be shot.
  • n. A temporary wooden tower built for defensive purposes.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A tower or advanced work defending the entrance to a castle or city, as at a gate or bridge. It was often large and strong, having a ditch and drawbridge of its own.
  • n. An opening in the wall of a fortress, through which missiles were discharged upon an enemy.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. In medieval fortification, an outwork of a castle or fortified place.
  • n. A loophole.
  • n. A channel or scupper in a parapet for the discharge of water.
  • n. A scansorial barbet of the family Capitonidæ and subfamily Pogonorhynchinæ, or the genus Pogonias in a broad sense. The barbicans are all African, like the barbions.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a tower that is part of a defensive structure (such as a castle)

Etymologies

Middle English, from Old French barbacane, from Medieval Latin barbacana, from Persian barbārkhān : barbār, guard (from Old Iranian *parivāraka-, protective; see wer-4 in Indo-European roots) + khān, house (from Middle Persian).
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Old French barbacane, of uncertain origin: compare Arabic بربخ (barbakh, "aqueduct, sewer"), and Persian باب‌خانه (bab-khâna, "gatehouse"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

Comments

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  • "Ahead, a vast grilled barrier like a castle barbican swam out of the gloom...and beyond it, they caught their first glimpse of Blaine the Mono." From The Wastelands by Stephen King.

    January 9, 2011

  • Two concert venues in London are Barbican and Kenwood.

    June 10, 2009

  • Heehee.

    June 10, 2009

  • I always thought this was the container the Barbicide came in at the barber shop. My bad.

    June 10, 2009

  • Fortified outwork defending the gate of a castle or town.

    Also, capped, the former home of the RSC in London.

    August 24, 2008